Coleman "Hungry" For Season To Begin

Junior defensive end Antonio Coleman talks about the 2008 season opener against Louisiana-Monroe.

Auburn, Ala.--Auburn junior defensive end Antonio Coleman is fired up about the start of the 2008 season. Coming off a fantastic sophomore year that saw him finish with 18 ½ tackles for a loss and eight and a half sacks, Coleman said that while he'll likely be a marked man this season on Auburn's defense it doesn't matter to him.

"I expect that with some of the things I did last year," Coleman said. "I also look at it like when I get on the field they are going to be aiming for me. I'm going to have a target on me. It should be a plus for me to get out there and work harder. Even if they are aiming for me I can still get out there and make plays."

Missing time in the spring with a neck injury and more time to start preseason practice with a slight hamstring strain, Coleman said he feels very good as the Tigers head into opening night against Louisiana-Monroe.

"I have gotten a lot stronger in the weight room," Coleman said. "I hurt my neck and that has gotten a lot stronger. I have put on about five pounds and I have worked on getting quicker. I'm just trying to get faster. I think it's all going to benefit me when the season starts."

While Coleman has fought off a strong challenge from Antoine Carter for the weak side defensive end position, one spot that is still up for grabs is at quarterback where Kodi Burns and Chris Todd are listed as co-starters for the Tigers. Even though it's something many think would keep the entire team questioning, Coleman said that's something the defense doesn't concern itself with.

"We really don't care," Coleman said. "We're worried about what we're going to get out there an do Saturday. We let the offense handle their business. We're just worried about us right now."

Perhaps the biggest worry for Coleman and the defense this week is the powerful rushing attack of La. Monroe. Averaging 209 yards per game on the ground with quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster totaling 398 for the season, Coleman said the challenge will be a big one for the Tiger defense against the spread attack of the Warhawks.

"They were 16th in the nation in rushing," Coleman said. "I don't even think our offense was that good last year. They have a great rushing attack. They are a good zone team with a dual-threat quarterback. They're going to come down here and challenge us. We're not going to take them lightly. That's the big key we've got to focus on and not just coming out there and trying to roll our helmet out there and win."

A competitor from the word go, Coleman has been sidelined from contact for much of the time since Auburn's win over Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Now full speed and ready to go, the Mobile native said the toughest part will be keeping his emotions in check until 6 p.m. Saturday night.

"I'm just ready for Saturday to get here," Coleman said. "I wish it was tomorrow. You just don't know how hungry I am. It has been a long time since I touched that field. I'm ready to get out there and make it happen."

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